King Krule - King Krule EP (Cover Artwork)

King Krule

King Krule EP (2011)

True Panther

King Krule, born Archy Marshall in 1994, is a 17-year-old singer/songwriter from South East London who began making his own music under the name Zoo Kid. His debut release, King Krule EP, is five tracks of haunting despair, youthful doubt and mature craftsmanship. Showing off traces of new wave, darkwave, post-punk and hints of dub, Krule has a vast array of talents which is quite spectacular considering his young age. His vocals remind me of a very sloshed Randy Newman or severely depressed Damon Albarn. Other reviewers out there lean more towards Morrissey, Leonard Cohen and Billy Brag. Regardless, these untrained vocals don't seem to be the type you'd expect from a youth. Often showing respite, anger, and fear, Krule resembles that certain time in one's life where the world is right in front of you with its overwhelming presence. What can you do?

Instrumental track "363N63" opens the album with a sort of down-tempo, funeral type elegy. It's bleak and full of tension, like all the other tracks here. Often in the search for clarification, one hopes to find some sort of straight answer. "Bleak Blake" doesn't seem to provide much in that regard, but it is an interesting, first vocal track. The delivery is almost like the Streets spitting his rhymes, but way more grimy and slow. A jetlagged sort of motion per say.

There is an intimate, almost documentary feel to these songs that opens up this very personal picture. The instrumentation is very hazy and druggy, giving off a jazzy rhythm. Drums clash gently and the jangly guitars are minimalistic, often blending in with Krule's vocals. It's just meshes so well that to distinguish between the pieces seems like a waste of time. Fourth track, "Lead Existence," is surprisingly more upbeat, with Krule singing an awakening of sorts, but then cutting abruptly with the line, "I lost the soul to my blues, a long time ago." It's barely a minute before it stops. I guess we're only supposed to get a glimpse of this pain and despair mentioned, and that is one of the things keeping this EP down. Ideas seem to drop before they can grow, which is a bit irritating since the songs are so good.

Album highlight and closer is "The Noose of Jah City;" a song with very ambient textures and a small amount of darkwave touch. It's the most complete and focused song collected here, with echoing, chiming guitars, sampled drum beats, and reverbed vocals serving as a nice touch. Using the image of his body suffering in concrete, and saying he is "always to blame," a sense of disillusioned imagination towards death and guilt is Krule's stylistic choice.

But what would make this kid get so down? Was it the nature of London during this past year that references the distasteful, desperate alienation of that nation's youth? A stark contrast to what American kids are doing these days, the music of King Krule is a young man's interpretation of his own world and those around him. We have that in the states, but the result of these efforts is a mirrored reflection of one's struggle to understand what the heck has/is happening and it feels more real than anything recently released